Around and about

It’s been a while! My last post was in November and it’s now well into March. I’ve not had a lot to share since then but thought it worth an update now.

First up, my posts are back on the original zkarj.co.nz domain after my foray into SquareSpace. SquareSpace is pretty good for hassle-free posting but I was forever cramming more and more into the one domain to avoid multiplying the cost. Now I’ve got one hosting account with lots of domains again. Anyway…

An early January visit to Wellington Airport netted a series of (almost) head on shots.

Mount Cook Airline ATR-GIE ATR72, ZK-MVB, is up first.

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Next is Sounds Air Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, ZK-SAA.

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Next, we switch location into the terminal, where we first see another ATR72, ZK-MVN, taxiing in to the gate on one engine.

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Then Air New Zealand Airbus A320, ZK-OXA is pushed back from the gate prior to departure.

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No longer head on, but still concentrating on noses, we see Air Nelson’s Bombardier Dash 8 Q300s, ZK-NES in white, and ZK-NEM in black. This was the first time I had seen ZK-NEM in this scheme.

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Here’s a better shot of ZK-NEM when departing later.

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Next, we have a pair of business jets. Learjet 36A N82GG sits outside while Cessna 650 Citation III N163JM sits inside.

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Getting back to noses, we see Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200, 9V-SRM, at the moment of touchdown, and through a lot of heat haze.

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All of those photos were taken in a single visit. Below are two that I took today on a brief stop while out around the town on a stunning day.

Resident Nanchang CJ6, ZK-MAO, was awaiting its turn at the fuel pump.

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Anf finally, trying to hide from me, is Agusta-Bell AB206A Jetranger, ZK-HMU. It’s hiding behind Air2There’s Beechcraft B200C Super King Air, ZK-MYM.

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Catching up

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything new here – three months. But my camera has not been idle. In fact, I’ve upgraded my camera, but these shots below are from the old one. You’ll have to wait until I have the chance to train the new one on some TTF (Things That Fly – although…)

These shots cover three trips to Wellington Airport, though all within the space of less than a week in early August.

Friday 4th August was a bit of a miserable day, as these two photos show. The shadows cast on Wellington Aero Club’s Piper PA-38 Tomahawks, ZK-WAC and ZK-TAW, suggest some bright weather, but the sodden tarmac and the rainbow in the background suggest otherwise.

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The weather is a bit more obvious in this shot of Mount Cook Airline’s ATR72-500, ZK-MCX, and Air Nelson DHC-8 Q300, ZK-NER (along with photo-bomber ZK-TAW).

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Roll forward to Saturday 5th August and the weather was a whole different affair, as seen here with Air Nelson DHC-8 Q300, ZK-NEE, lifting off into the blue sky, with the blue Cook Strait behind looking reasonably calm.

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It was also a grand day out for those who took the Wellington Aero Club Nanchang CJ-6, ZK-MAO, aloft.

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Come Wednesday 9th August, the weather had closed in again. It is winter, after all.

Mount Cook Airline’s ATR-72-600, ZK-MVH, wades through the puddles en route to the terminal, with Rescue 5 crossing in the foreground.

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Finally, this was the first time I have been on hand in the terminal for an arrival of Singapore Airlines’ Singapore-Canberra-Wellington service. Here you can see Boeing 777-200ER, 9V-SRP, a moment before touchdown.

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All of the photos from these three days can be seen over on Flickr.

A little bit of Welly

I had a day off work, the sun was out, and I was encouraged to leave the house. You know what happened next.

There wasn’t a whole lot of traffic, but what was there was somewhat interesting, and I took photos from a bunch of different spots.

Speaking of spotting spots – I was up on the seawall at the south end of the runway when someone yelled “Restricted area!” from a moving vehicle. I didn’t see them so don’t know if it was AvSec or any other airport authority. I did move on not long afterwards but had AvSec decided to come and have a chat, they would certainly have had time before I left. I know there are “Restricted Area” signs, including one I passed by the windsock, but I’ve been going up there for YEARS as have all manner of people including groups of kids, walkers, dog walkers, mountain bikers, and I’ve even been up there when AvSec staff were around and they said nothing. Heck, I have a photo of an AvSec officer in the area with some other people. What’s the deal there? I note they are making it incredibly difficult to park anywhere nearby now.

Anyway, first up from the handful I’ll include here, I was rather pleased with this angle on Air New Zealand’s second youngest Airbus A320, ZK-OXL, which is now just a little over a year old.

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With the recent retirement of (almost) all of the freight Convairs, Air Chathams’ examples become more of a rarity. Here, ZK-CIF departs RWY34 at a fairly sprightly rate of climb for the type. Must have been lightly loaded as there wasn’t a whole lot of wind.

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I think this is the first time I’ve seen Sounds Air’s corporate-configured PC-12, ZK-PLZ. It’s certainly the first photo I’ve taken. I was intrigued by the three different types of chocks in use.

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And finally, a new airframe for me, I think, is Singapore Airlines’ 777-200ER, 9V-SQK. I was astonished at how quickly it slowed on the runway after touchdown. I believe it is required to take the full length before exiting, but from what I saw it would have had no trouble exiting RWY34 at A4, possibly earlier.

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Interestingly, this was the second 777-200ER I had personally sighted on the day. From home, I watched 9V-SVI operating SQ297 pass by at around 16,000ft over Cook Strait on its way to Ohakea, where it was diverted due to fog at Christchurch.

It flew on to Christchurch in the early afternoon, arriving four hours behind schedule.

I published a total of 24 photos from this visit, which you can find over on Flickr.

New Year

With this being the last day of my “holiday” I decided the sunshine was a good reason to head out to Wellington Airport for my first visit of 2017, and just in time to watch the Singapore Airlines 777 landing again.

Notwithstanding some blustery wind, the conditions were great for photography and netted me another 14 photos for my Wellington Airport album on Flickr.

First and last in my images, Piper PA-32 Saratoga, ZK-ZIG, of Golden Bay Air, arrived and departed via the main passenger terminal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it anywhere other than the western apron before. All of my photos today came out super clear – so much so I reckon I could sell this photo to the lady in 1A!

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The main event, as it were. This time arriving from the south into the stiff northerly. I like how this shot turned out because there’s just enough of the seawall, the Moa Point rocks and the sea, plus a tiny glimpse of Pencarrow Head, so any local will instantly know where it was taken. Today’s service for Singapore Airlines was operated by Boeing 777-200LR, 9V-SQN.

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This little beauty snuck up on me so I was very happy my quick snap turned out OK, even if I did end up with a 1/2000″ shutter speed and a stopped prop! This is a 1955 model Cessna 172, ZK-MGR. It is relatively new to New Zealand, having been registered just a couple of years ago to a Blenheim address. All of its previous life, since 1956, was lived in the USA, where it was converted to a Lycoming engine and a Hartzell propeller added.

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I just had to capture this scene. Air New Zealand Airbus A320, ZK-OXI (which I actually had not photographed before), was pushed back alongside the Singapore Airlines 777, showing just what a size difference there is between the two. That A320 is quite a bit closer than the 777!

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A pleasing study of Virgin Australia’s 737-800, VH-YIJ as it departed RWY34. While I often try to remove or minimise fences in my photos, this time I decided just to own it.

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And finally, my most photographed A320, Air New Zealand’s ZK-OAB, rotates on RWY34. This time I minimised the fence. I could have got rid of that strainer in the corner, but the barbed wire crosses the whole bottom of the photo. Hey, you didn’t even notice until I pointed it out, did you?

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And finally finally, a little bonus. This is a quick snap I took of the progress in building Wellington’s new control tower, which is (curiously) located in the carpark of the adjacent retail centre. I was looking at it from near the runway tunnel today and thinking it looks an awfully long way back from the tarmac. I don’t know how much higher it will get, but the view of the apron directly in front of the western hangars can’t be great. This photo is taken looking roughly north, with Tirangi Road to the left.

There are another eight photos over on Flickr if you’d like to go take a look.

Any given Sunday

I mentioned back in August that my Flickr album for Wellington Airport was nearing 1,000 images. After a recent cleanup of my photo collection, the album stood at 992 photos. Rather than wait until I had 8 new images to publish, I decided to trawl back through my collection for unpublished gems and they were the subject of my previous post.

Which brings us to the magic 1,000 photos and the promised “something special” to mark the occasion.

There have been many times I’ve headed out to Wellington Airport and come away with the feeling of “same old same old,” but in reality, there are quite a lot of interesting comings and goings if you chance to be there at the right time. What follows is a selection of 20 photos that I think portray the “less ordinary” side of operations. They are, perhaps, a reflection of what you just might come across on a visit, on any given Sunday.

Sometimes the extraordinary is the result of quirk upon quirk. For a time, Air New Zealand’s Boeing 737-300, ZK-FRE (ex-Freedom Air) wore a bright green “Air New Zealand Holidays” promotional scheme. As if this wasn’t quirky enough, there was a period where it wore a plain white nose cone giving an almost comical appearance.

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The following aircraft had a split personality. Registered to Origin Pacific for the four years it spent on the register, ATR-72 500 ZK-JSZ nevertheless spent some time operating flights for Air New Zealand wearing this curious “cross-over” scheme that was basically the original Origin Pacific scheme with titles replaced and the curious and unique, I think, blue koru on the tail.

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Other times, interesting colours resulted from the short-term needs of airlines. For a period of about six months in late 2006, early 2007, Air New Zealand leased a Boeing 737-300, G-THOE, from Thomson Airways. This colour scheme was an easy one spot from a considerable distance.

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While Wellington was frequently to see “All Blacks” special schemes in the form of Beechcraft 1900Ds and Airbus A320s, this very special one-time visit of Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER, ZK-OKQ, generated enough interest to attract journalists. The lowest person in this photo was a Dominion Post photographer and his published shot included my sons in the frame – seen directly in front of him in my shot.

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Sometimes new colours appear worn by new types. While foreign governments are a significant source of visitors, in this case, it was a foreign sports team. Specifically, the Bahrain football (soccer) team arrived in Wellington to play the All Whites in a World Cup qualifier game at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium. Their mode of transport being Gulf Air Airbus A340, A9C-LI.

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Wellington is no stranger to “bizjets” but in recent years it has seen a significant number of larger corporate types, such as this Boeing 737-BBJ (based on a -700 series), N7600K, which belongs to the SAS Institute.

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This aircraft is of the same type, but wears USAF serial 020042 (the initial digit generally being omitted on US military aircraft) – and little else! Technically, in USAF service, this is a Boeing C40B.

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Other US military airframes are a little more obvious in declaring their allegiance. This Boeing VC32, 990003, brought US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to our shores in November 2010 and had I been able to get a better angle you’d be able to see “United States of America” emblazoned on the side.

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USAF aircraft aren’t so uncommon in New Zealand skies, but this slightly more exotic “military airliner” has been here twice. United Arab Emirates Amiri Flight Boeing 787, A6-PFC, snuck into Wellington just after sunset on this occasion, testing my camera and my ability to operate it. The shot was 1/160″ at f/4.5 and ISO 4000!

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More exotic, still, is this Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M, “101,” which drew quite a crowd when it was here in March 2007.

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When it comes to foreign military services utilising civil designs, it’s not restricted to airliners. Below you can see a US Coastguard operated Gulfstream C37A, serial ’01’, would be known as a G-V in civilian life.

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Then again, military operators also fly what could be described as “military-first” types. While there are certainly civilian operated Lockheed Hercules, this RAF C-130J, ZH874, is representative of over 98% of Hercules built for military operators. This model is known as the C.4 in RAF use.

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Sticking with the overtly military theme is this Chilean Navy Lockheed P-3A Orion,  VP-1, which dropped into Wellington briefly before heading to nearby Blenheim for maintenance with Safe Air.

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Finally, on the military theme, I tend to consider the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III a “modern” type, even though it entered service with the USAF 23 years ago. Even the RAAF, from whence this example, A41-211, comes, have been operating them for 10 years. But for comparison, the RNZAF have operated Hercules and Orions for 50 years!

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Completely changing tack now, it’s probably correct to say the greatest number of movements in and out of Wellington Airport, outside of RPT flights, would go to the many rescue and ambulance services. It’s a pretty rare visit to Wellington that I don’t see some evidence of this activity. And while our resident aircraft are super busy, we also see quite a variety of aircraft from other regions, such as this fine example from Taranaki. Agusta A109, ZK-ITR, departs the western apron after a refuelling stop.

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The versatility of helicopters also sees them used for pure convenience by those with sufficient means. In other words, when you’ve just jetted in on your Bombardier Challenger biz-jet, why not complete your journey by helicopter, as this punter did in Helipro’s AS355 Twin Squirrel, ZK-HYN.

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And then there are those times where arriving by helicopter might just make an awesome day even more awesome. Here comes the bride! Although it would have been more apropos had the lady used local Robinson R44 Raven, ZK-IDO, a BK117, such as Precision Helicopters’ ZK-IED is a sound choice for the aviating bride.

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Beyond the basic utility of helicopters are the types of specialist work only they can perform. This Boeing Vertol 107, N6675D, spent some time in the country on various lifting work, primarily logging from what I read. Note the large bubble window allowing the pilot excellent visibility straight down.

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Nearing the end of this selection, we find a unique aircraft in New Zealand skies in Yak-18T, ZK-SSR. It shares a lot of parts and systems with the more common Yak-52 but looks like an altogether nicer tourer.

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Finally, and very much in the “what do we have here?” camp, I spied ex-RNZAF BAC Strikemaster, ZK-BAC being refuelled outside the Life Flight Trust hangar, and indeed connected to a LFT vehicle for towing. The aircraft is registered to a Lower Hutt address but I do not know if it is hangared at Wellington. I have noted it operating out of Wellington on a couple of occasions.

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And so ends the celebratory post. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the Wellington region, do pop out and see what you can spot when you get the chance. I’ve heard of far more exotic sights than these, too, so you really never know what you’ll find.

These photos have all been republished on Flickr to my latest standards, and I’ve collected them into a new album. Click any photo above to go to the Flickr page, or just head on over to the album.

Widebody wonder

I managed to get to the airport today just in time to see the third arrival of Singapore Airlines’ SQ291 flight from Singapore and Canberra, along with quite few other spotters, as this was the first arrival on a weekend day.

I’ve noticed some negative slant in the media referring to this as Wellington’s first (so called) “long haul” flight, due to the stopover in Canberra, but there is never any such slant on NZ1 to London, which necessarily stops in Los Angeles. The Boeing 777-200ER travels nearly a third of the distance to Singapore before stopping and only spends about 90 minutes on the ground in Canberra where, importantly, passengers do not need to deplane. Furthermore, there is no need to do the hustle between terminals in Auckland nor worry about a delay on a domestic leg affecting connection to the international.

I wholeheartedly support Singapore Airlines’ commitment to Wellington with their imaginative routing and hope other airlines see fit to do the same.

Anyway, here are a small handful of photos from today.

First up, 9V-SRM (the second airframe to be used on the service after 9V-SRP flew the first two services) approaches the threshold of RWY16.

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Next we see a magnificent profile moments before touchdown. I congratulated myself on having put my wider zoom lens on the camera before departing today. This is a very modest crop on a 31mm focal length image!

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And finally a shot of it parked at Wellington’s infamous “Rock” international terminal, by this time swarming with airport workers who have around 5 hours to turn it around for the return trip.

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Oh, and one more thing. Here’s a bonus pic of a Jetstar regional DHC-8 Q300, VH-TQD just starting its engines for a service to Nelson.

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